Five Favorite Christmas Movies (+ Honorable Mentions)

Image Credits: Theo Crazzolara

I love watching Christmas movies during Christmas time, and even though it is nice to discover new ones, I am very fond of the classics that I used to watch as a child. There are many Christmas movies coming out every year and it is almost impossible to pick the ones to watch; I usually see up to five movies among the are coming out or the old ones that I haven’t seen yet, but what I enjoy most is rewatching my favorite Christmas movies, which are also some of the most beloved and internationally known. I will probably rewatch a couple of the movies I am mentioning in this article and I also plan to marathon the Harry Potter series during the holidays because it is great to watch these movies in the wintertime.

Here are some of the Christmas movies I have enjoyed throughout the years:

Image Credits: Universal Pictures

1) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000): this is one of the most famous Christmas classics ever made. It is based on the eponymous children tale by Dr. Seuss which was previously adapted into an animated TV movie in 1966 . The magical land of Whoville exists inside a snowflake, where the Whos live and love to celebrate Christmas; they basically count down the entire year until Christmas day. The Grinch is a green creature who lives just outside Whoville and has despised Christmas time ever since he self-isolated on Mount Crumpit when he was still a child, after his classmates made fun of him for his hairy aspect. Cindy, a young girl who comes from a loving family, decides to befriend the Grinch and wants to involve him in the festivities, but when something goes wrong with the Whos, he plans to ruin Christmas day for everyone. The Grinch is played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, who is absolutely hilarious in this role. The story is very heartwarming and it does a great job in emphasizing the importance of spending time with loved ones during the holiday season. It is also a visually exceptional movie, with a great set design that makes everything feel really magical. It is a movie that stands the test of time and it will probably be appreciated by people of all ages.

Image Credits: Universal Pictures

2) Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003): one of the most famous romantic comedies ever made, it follows eight different couples who are managing their love lives in various interconnected plots all set in the hectic month before Christmas. These stories take place in London and the cast is terrific, as it includes many famous actors and actresses like Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. It is a very powerful movie that is all about love and its numerous meanings; its storylines are well developed and the lives of all these people are connected by love. It is both touching and funny thanks to great performances by all the cast members; I have watched Love Actually with my family during the holiday season almost every year since it first came out because it is very intelligent and it perfectly embodies the meaning of Christmas. It is heartwarming and sweet; there is that certain something about the film that makes it a staple of the Christmas genre and one feels compelled to watch it every year in the wintertime, as it is filled with romantic moments and tender gestures we can all identify with in one way or another.


Five Books To Read During The Holiday Season

Image Credits: Eleonora Albasi

As I have previously mentioned in my article about Halloween book recommendations, I tend to read books according to the current season so in the wintertime I will find myself reading books like Anna Karenina or War and Peace (I still haven’t read the latter but have recently heard that it’s a great book to read when it’s cold outside).

Today I am going to recommend you five books that I’ve enjoyed through the years that are perfect for Christmas time. I am currently rereading one of the books included in the list, a novel that is not entirely set during Christmas but it evokes deep feelings of tenderness; I first read it when I was ten years old and it holds a special place in my heart.

Here below you will find my top five books to read around Christmas, in no particular order:

Image Credits: Speak

1) Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle: I am a fan of John Green’s books, as I have read three of his YA novels and enjoyed them all (I still cry when I think about Looking for Alaska). Let It Snow is a series of interconnected tales written by three authors from which the magic of the holidays shines through. You will probably have a preference for one of the stories over another (my favorite remains “Jubilee Express”, the one written by Maureen Johnson), but they all have such a great Christmas atmosphere, since the events also take place during a snowstorm. The short stories in this anthology are all connected by a thread so you recognize the characters as you read on. The book has lots of sweet moments and it even made me laugh at some points. There is also a Netflix film adaptation available which is not bad; I have noticed that it seems to be a love-it-or-hate it kind of book, but if you are in the mood for a light Christmas read you will probably enjoy it.

Image Credits: Oxford Children’s Classics

2) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: this is one of the most famous Christmas stories which has been adapted for the screen multiple times (there is also a Mickey Mouse version that I saw when I was little and another one starring the Muppets). Ebenezer Scrooge is a very grumpy and stingy man who resents the Christmas season, but suddenly he is visited by three spirits who advise him to change his attitude before it is too late. It is a classic story which is known worldwide and it is rich in symbolism; it really makes the reader understand how it’s never too late to change their ways. It is very profound and I always like to revisit it during the holiday season because it conveys the true meaning of Christmas, something that we all need to be reminded of in an era of excessive consumerism; many parts of the story underline how money cannot really buy happiness, and this is perfectly clear when you look at the character of Mr Scrooge, who is actually an unhappy person that refuses to take part in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas. A Christmas Carol is a deeply known and appreciated tale which is almost a personification of Christmas itself.


Car Photography: Five Cars I Have Photographed Over The Years

Fiat 500 steering wheel

I am a fan of cars and have always enjoyed photographing them anytime I came across a particularly interesting car in the streets. Although I am generally a good driver, I don’t drive as much as I would like to because I spend most of my time in urban spaces where public transport is highly encouraged and I usually have to cover long distances when I am traveling so I rely on trains and planes.

My father is a car lover and has often changed cars over the years; my favorite one remains his old Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he drove from 2000 to 2009, and it was a very comfortable car for long trips. I think I love cars mostly for the aesthetic side, so I try not to miss the chance to photograph the ones I like when I see them parked on the street.

I have a particular fondness for vintage cars, and this is one of the reasons why I would like to visit Cuba in the future; Havana is full of vintage cars, and about 50 percent of the cars there were manufactured in the United States, mainly Fords, Chevrolets, and Cadillacs. (I have often imagined myself driving a pink Cadillac Eldorado from the 1950s).

As some of you may know, photography is one of my biggest passions in life and I really like to do post-production work on car photos. I am particularly fond of the selective color technique (that is, rendering the photo in black and white and leaving the color only on one of the subjects in the photo, in this case the car). I have rounded up five of my favorite car pictures among the ones I have taken over the years, along with some interesting facts about the cars mentioned, and I hope you will enjoy my selection.

Fiat 500 Topolino.
Vintage Fiat 500 Topolino in Rome, 2008

1) Fiat 500 “Topolino” (Mickey Mouse): I took this photo several years ago on a trip to Rome and I consider this car one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It was parked in the neighborhood of Trastevere, an iconic area in Rome where there is still an atmosphere of bygone eras. This model of Fiat 500 was mainly known as the Topolino (Mickey Mouse) and was in production from 1936 to 1955. When the Topolino rolled out of the Fiat factory in June 1936, the car was an immediate success: its modern lines, compactness, and low price conquered Italy and Europe.

The new 500B and 500C versions accompanied Italians through the post-war and reconstruction period, becoming the symbol and myth of a nation launched toward economic development. The different models produced tell the story of Italy through the evolution of a true myth; in fact, each one of the models carries a small piece of history within itself.

The Topolino possesses a rounded and jaunty aerodynamic line that generates liking in those who look at it, and from the very beginning it was associated with Walt Disney’s famous cartoon character, Mickey Mouse (known as “Topolino” in Italy). The model in the photo in particular was built between 1949 and 1954 and was called 500C; its lines are reminiscent of American taste. It is definitely a car that recalls the years of the Roman Dolce Vita and it is nice to see that this model is still around.

Blue Ferrari.
Ferrari F8 Tributo in Bergamo, 2021

2) Ferrari F8 Tributo: I recently wrote an article about my time in Bergamo, a city located in Northern Italy. At the time I was there, the rally and parade of Ferrari cars belonging to Scuderia Ferrari Club Caprino Bergamasco was held. The event took place on a beautiful sunny Sunday and many people gathered to watch the Ferraris go by. Although most of the cars were red, the car in the photo is the most beautiful I have seen during the event (a choice probably influenced by the fact that blue is my favorite color). This Ferrari F8 Tributo model, more bold than the similar earlier 488 GTB model, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in spring 2019; the name celebrates the world’s best eight-cylinder engine. Following the parade, it was possible to see the cars up close and I had the opportunity to photograph the car’s engine as well, which you can see on my Flickr profile, where you will also find other pictures I took at the Ferrari parade in Bergamo. Many members of my family are big fans of the F1 World Championship and I grew up with the myth of Ferrari, one of the best known symbols of Made In Italy excellence internationally. It’s always exciting to spot a Ferrari car in the streets and it’s even better to witness a parade of the many Ferrari clubs in Italy!


Balkan Cities: Tirana In Five Pictures

I visited Albania at the beginning of 2018 and I managed to see some very interesting places. I was in Tirana for three days only, but I found it to be a city rich in culture and entertainment; while people usually prefer to see more natural places in Albania, especially towns by the sea, visiting Tirana was also important to understand a piece of Albania’s history. Tirana is the most populous city in the entire nation (located in an area inhabited by more than one-third of the entire Albanian population) but although the city was founded during the Ottoman Empire, it was expanded and modernized during the 20th century, particularly in the 1990s with the fall of the communist regime. Numerous investments by foreign entrepreneurs have ensured that nowadays the city has many venues and it is especially attractive for young people, due to the large number of cafés and restaurants. I had a chance to walk around the city and see how the locals live; as far as safety is concerned, Tirana is rather quiet but as it happens with all the big cities around the world, you have to be careful especially if you are traveling solo.

Speaking of bars and restaurants, I had a very good time at Millennium Garden, where I tried Puka Beer, which is a delicious Albanian craft beer. I also recommend eating fish at Markata E Peshkut, located in the city center.

Tirana Cityscape

1) Tirana Cityscape: I saw the city of Tirana from the top floor of the Maritim Hotel Plaza , one of the best business hotels in the city. The view from there is pretty amazing, as it also includes the mountains surrounding the entire area. Tirana is the seat of power of the Albanian government, as it also hosts the Albanian parliament. The city is now the main economic, financial, political and commercial centre of Albania, and it is home to various public institutions and the university. From the urban agglomeration of buildings, it can be noticed that Tirana is a city in constant urban growth and it has also been awarded the title of European Youth Capital for 2022.

Street Art - Tirana, Albania.
Graffiti work on the façade of NOKI bar

2) Graffiti in Tirana : the capital of Albania is full of graffiti and urban artworks as part of a project that embraces street art as a tool for social cohesion; the many murals located in various parts of the city have helped improve the city aesthetically and have given a new face to its urban fabric as well. In the same year I visited Tirana, a group of street artists organized a street art festival called MuralFest in collaboration with an art workshop in the Italian city of Lecce and the Albanian administration. Murals are increasingly appreciated by citizens in different parts of the world, and the same is happening in Tirana. I spotted this colorful graffiti of a girl dressed in flowers depicted on the façade of a popular bar called NOKI, which is located on the city’s main pedestrian street.